An ex-con trying to go straight is framed for a million dollar armored car robbery and must go to Mexico in order to unmask the real culprits.
August 23, 2009
The Frame's the Picture
The three greatest heavies of all time: Jack Elam, Neville Brand, and Lee Van Cleef with hair. Three guys who definitely would've comprised half of "The Usual Suspects" had it been filmed in the 40s. The antihero of this film is a resolutely 40s postwar dropout, neo-noir loser. The film opens with some very confusing title cards about the story of the perfect crime, obtained from the policiers of K.C., MO. Next we see the criminal mastermind putting the finishing touches on the plan behind that crime, the execution of the hard part of it, and the explanation of how to get away with it, which is basically the story of the rest of the movie. Anonymity is the trump card of the mastermind's scheme. Unfortunately his decision to hide in plain sight as a pseudo-Hemingway somewhere in the Bahamas, together with his choice of masking only his face and not his distinctive, gruffer-than-Broderick Crawford, order-barking voice becomes problematic at the reimbursement stage of the caper. Another detriment: the aforementioned three heavies are the other members of the gang; and when all of them are cabled to show up at this out-of-the-way dive island hotel, the strain on their anonymity agreement becomes untenable. This also because the guy framed for the job is proving adept at evening the score, and has shown up there as well, attempting to impersonate one of them.
This character's smoldering drive to settle that score is the slghtly off-center core of the movie, and makes his character a bona fide noir protagonist. When you can't beat Fate, join it.